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Short-Cuts to Bowhunting Deer Success Day 3: Minimize Mistakes Made in a Tree Stand While Hunting Deer

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Editor’s Note: Many of the nation’s leading bowhunters have developed strategies for successful deer hunting and have vast experience in scouting as well as bowhunting.

Although many hunters will take all the precautions necessary to hunt from a tree stand, once they’ve been in the stand for an hour or two, they blow the hunt themselves. One of the biggest mistakes a hunter makes from the tree stand is the candy bar mistake. The hunter does everything he can to hide, mask or condition deer to human scent, so the deer won’t smell human odor, or if the buck does smell human odor, he’s not alarmed by it. But often after a sportsman has been in a stand for a while, he will decide that a candy bar certainly will taste good. So, he pulls the Velcro fastener on his hunting coat, which alarms the deer in the area. Next he reaches into his pocket and tears-open the candy wrapper, which again spooks the deer. Then he starts munching on that chocolate, peanut or nougat that gives off such a strong odor that it surely can be smelled from one side of New York City to the other.

After he finishes his candy bar, he decides that a cup of hot coffee sure will make him feel better and warmer. So, he digs into his knapsack, rattles his stainless-steel thermos and unscrews the lid – letting out the aroma of warm, hot coffee. Again he’s putting out a s  cent that the deer aren’t accustomed to that will frighten the deer. Now the hunter thinks he’s ready to hunt, since he’s full of candy bars and warm from the coffee. But he can’t understand why he’s not seeing deer. If a deer hunter gets hungry or needs a cup of coffee, he should leave the woods, eat, drink and then when he’s through, return to the woods.

I have a friend who was in the Army Reserve Special Forces and learned many skills that aided his deer hunting. During summer camp, a buddy and he had two weeks to infiltrate another unit’s camp and take the dog tags off a lady lieutenant in that camp without getting caught. To accomplish this mission, they spent most of those two weeks sitting outside that camp, watching what was happening. Within a week, they knew most everything going on in the camp.

I believe deer are much like my buddy. They watch, notice and try to understand everything in their home ranges. Once the hunter alarms the deer, then he’ll have a much-more difficult time taking that deer. So, if you’re fouling up your hunting area with the smell of a candy bar or coffee while sitting in a tree stand, then you’re only shrinking your chances of bagging deer that day. Actually you’re probably reducing your opportunity of ever taking a deer from that spot.

To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” (

Tomorrow: Use or Don’t Use a Portable Tree Stand Hunting Deer and Beat the Crowds

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